At one point or another, every chemical engineer has had to awkwardly explain to someone exactly what a chemical engineer does. Too frequently, the root of many people’s confusion is the incorrect belief that chemical engineering is alienated from how the average person lives their life. The truth is that the work of chemical engineers is deeply integrated into nearly all levels of society, from transportation fuels to the production and shipping of consumer goods to the way we heat our homes and businesses.
The central role chemical engineers play in urban heating speaks to how integral chemical engineers are to community organization in general. As heating networks decarbonize, the technologies that chemical engineers design and implement will change. Certain communities are implementing new sustainable heating technologies, like waste-to-energy district heating, while other potential sustainable heating solutions — like green hydrogen — are still in development. Beyond the technology, the type of heating system compatible with one kind of community could be entirely incompatible with another.
District heating. This style of heating system has immense potential, but it has considerable caveats. In a district heating network, a central energy source heats a process fluid that then circulates through homes and businesses. Heat may be supplied by a variety of sources; for example, in the U.S., most district heating systems are powered by natural gas. Still, some district heating systems...
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